I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said the Dodgers are using September to sort out their plans in October. Most of that had to do with the pitchers, with seven potential postseason contributors currently on the injured list and in various stages of working their way back.
But there’s still some sorting out to do on the position-player side, too. The roster is pretty much set, with the current 14 active players the group from which 13 playoff roster spots will be filled. If anyone else currently in the minors had a chance for October — like Edwin Ríos or James Outman — they would have been called up while Gavin Lux was on the injured list, instead of Lux waiting out his return from neck stiffness while also active.
Within those playoff-bound players, divvying up playing time is still to be decided for a few. We can look at how these four players have been used to see how things are trending.
Over the last two weeks, 13 total games:
- Joey Gallo: 11 starts, 37 plate appearances, .121/.216/.242
- Chris Taylor: 9 starts, 37 PA, .133/.297/.167
- Cody Bellinger: 9 starts, 33 PA, .036/.182/.036
- Trayce Thompson: 7 starts, 34 PA, .207/.324/.586
Those four accounted for all but one start in left field and center field during that span, plus a few fill-in starts in right field, and Taylor starting six times at second base with Lux out.
All but Thompson have been terrible at the plate over those last two weeks, with expected numbers to match:
- Gallo .174/.263/.330
- Taylor .145/.306/.250
- Bellinger .087/.226/.106
- Thompson .197/.315/.441
This is a flawed quartet, and a group that strikes out more than almost anyone. Among the 339 major leaguers with at least 190 plate appearances on the season, Gallo has the third-highest strikeout rate (39.2 percent), Thompson is sixth (37.2 percent), and Taylor is ninth (36 percent). Bellinger strikes out the least of the bunch, at 27.6 percent, but when he puts his bat to the ball he’s not doing much at all, hitting just .197/.259/.378, a 78 wRC+.
Taylor’s strikeout rate since returning from the injured list is higher (37.6 percent), and he’s hitting just .161/.267/.276, a 59 wRC+.
Gallo since joining the Dodgers is hitting .191/.304/.441, a 111 wRC+. He’s been extremely platooned, batting just five times against left-handed pitching.
Thompson, who joined the Dodgers in June, is hitting .281/.371/.556, a 159 wRC+ that ranks 16th in the majors during that time. The strikeouts are troubling, but the quality of contact is great, with an expected line of .263/.357/.508.
He’s started only 38 of 72 games with Los Angeles.
You could argue Thompson is succeeding because the Dodgers have put him in a better position to succeed with more favorable matchups. That might be true, but the right-handed Thompson is hitting right-handed pitching better than anyone on the team, .341/.439/.610, a 207 wRC+ against them.
Thompson can play all three outfield positions, has hit well for nearly three months, and is one of the best power hitters on the team.
It’s pretty clear at this point that Thompson deserves more playing time. He’s earned it.